2018's How NOT to Summon a Demon Lord turned out to be notable for quite a few reasons. It started with a concept that sounded exhausting on paper, and instead spun it into a pretty clever, enjoyable experience. Plenty has already been said elsewhere of the integral role of its lead character Diablo's characterization, or the more good-natured bent of most (MOST!) of its fanservice contributing to its success, but I also want to spotlight how effectively the show worked its worldbuilding into its story. The game-based isekai world of Demon Lord specifically hones in on how a realm of such perpetual conflict would be compelled to function that way, what kinds of underlying agendas were at play in the adventurous opportunities afforded to our power-leveled protagonist. And Diablo's insecurities played into that; his past civilian-life betrayals made him neurotically aware that almost everyone was working an angle, making it all the more heartwarming when we saw he and his companions grow into teammates who could genuinely trust each other, slave collars notwithstanding (there's actually a whole separate discussion about trust and consent in such underlying fetish scenarios that I have neither the time nor the qualifications to get into here).
I lead with that particular pile of preamble because the building blocks of Demon Lord's various world-based factional conflicts look like they'll continue to motivate its plot going into this second season. Last season climaxed by fully exposing the realm's church for a decidedly antagonistic bent, unjustly targeting some of Diablo's demon-adjacent friends and nearly instigating a war with the monstrous Fallen population. But with Shera and Rem's issues now mostly taken care of (save for the nominal quest of getting around to removing their slave collars), Diablo must find himself a new magical girlfriend to serve as motivation for the next leg of his journey. And wouldn't you know it, he falls right into the lap of the High Priestess of that dang church we just ended up dealing with! As I said, one of the selling points of Demon Lord as a story is its willingness to engage with some of the complexities that would inevitably be inherent in even the most stock fantasy video-game worlds.
The first episode of Omega's introduction of High Priestess Lumachina and her situation initially makes things come off as a straight continuation of the previous season. There's a corrupt member of the church to fend off, and a new girl added to Diablo's harem, with most of the implications of entertainment value coming from the possibility that, given how things have worked out with his preceding party-member paramours, it's entirely possible our dopey Demon Lord is going to bang the Pope before this season is over. It mostly works, with plenty of mileage gotten out of Diablo's fronted-confidence gimmick, now with the added wrinkle that he's trying to navigate the feelings of a lady who thinks he's literally God. But it still feels enough like a retread of what made the previous season work, mixed in with a lot of details setting up the future story, and just a dash of fanservice that's a good deal less good-natured than the stuff I recommend this show to people for.
It's that second episode where Demon Lord Omega really starts to deploy its new settings, cast members, and concepts in a way that makes it feel like a proper new ‘installment’ of the series rather than a straight continuation. They even make a point of skipping over a whole interstitial sequence of the characters on a boat to get there more expeditiously (take that, Berserk!). And when this episode is focused on detailing its concepts, it's really on. The preceding Demon Lord season took a bit to show its hand about just how corrupt the people in charge of the world were and the ways they were willing to manipulate Diablo for their own gains. But that's out in the open now, and once we arrive at Zircon Tower City, the High Priestess herself has to immediately reckon with the poor conditions people are living in that seemingly allows her church here to take advantage of them. Lumachina's immediate resolve to heal a sick child exemplifies the earnest appeal of this series: following people who genuinely want to do their best to help others in this harsh, exploitative game-fantasy world. But then just when we think we're merely interrogating another level of the show's established corrupt-church plot, they throw a couple other wrenches in to mark the conflict as less black-and-white.
So is it actually the fault of sexy skyward sniper Laminitus for closing down the church and demanding taxes from them? It's hard to say at this point, as we don't seem to have a reason for her choice there beyond simple greedy consolidation of power and wealth. It also fits, given what we've seen of her treating her role as ‘Lord’ of the city in the strict feudal sense, leaving the common people to rot without resources and turning to the church to help, who then have to charge them microtransactions to keep operating. But even with their shortage of priests on-hand to perform miracles, they come across like they're prioritizing the rich attendants a little too much, and even before the foreboding ending of the episode, Head Paladin Batutta doesn't exactly give off the impression of someone on the up-and-up. It's a two-sided conflict of more nuanced duplicitous corruption, pointing to the possibility that Diablo and pals might have to resolve things at the behest of Lumachina's sense of societal obligation. Add in the lines regarding the role faith plays in the beliefs of religious people and how they see those supported and executed, and we're at least on the same level Demon Lord Season 1 left us on in terms of conceptual complexity, which is more than expected from a fanservice isekai show that also throws in Pekora cameos and a Me! Me! Me! homage for the ending. Truly, Demon Lord has something for everyone.
Unfortunately, some clear shortcomings have already made themselves apparent just in these opening episodes of the new season. The most obvious is going to be the visuals. Demon Lord's first season was generally good enough, with some flashes of decent battle animation or cool monster designs flourishing when they weren't pouring all their resources into the fanservice scenes. Omega, by contrast, looks noticeably clunkier, with stiffer character work, and the positively muddled design for the sand whale in the second episode, which by all accounts should have been a cool visual concept to realize! They at least still find the opportunity to animate Shera's jiggling breasts whenever possible, but that just segues into the other issue, which is one of characterization. It stands to reason that all the new characters being introduced would get priority in terms of focus and development, but it feels too uneven in how Rem and Shera have been shunted so far into the background for these opening episodes, contributing barely anything other than piping up as Diablo's cheerleaders intermittently. These girls had some pretty effective development and relationship-building through that first season, so effectively treating them as wallpaper in the show's big comeback just comes off as poorly-prioritized laziness.
At least the latter looks like an issue that might pick up moving forward, with Rem sitting in on the meeting between Lumachina and Batutta leading into the next episode, and Shera joining Diablo in the bath for one of the show's trademark goofy good-natured fanservice scenes. On that subject, it was a little disappointing to see Diablo's reactions to Shera's advances seemingly revert back to square one, given how the two of them effectively dry-humped each other to climax at least a couple times throughout that first season's run. Though I guess with the new season, we've got to reestablish and tease Diablo's tendencies to play into his nerdy limitations. I'm at least extremely amused by the punchline revelation of Shera giving him a horn-job, to say nothing of the point that I could write as much on the show's handling of scenes like this as I can its contrasting economical religious arguments. So even with lowered production values and some awkward character prioritization, I guess this really is still the Demon Lord I know and love! This isn't a refreshed season that's going to convince newcomers to jump onto the show—you're definitely better off going back to the beginning to check it out and see if the whole package is your bag. But it is a solid start that shows the interest in its world and how the characters interact with it is going to continue to escalate effectively. To be fair, the first season of Demon Lord took a little while to really get going too, and any impatience I have with this season to truly deliver is simply a testament to how much the series ended up raising my expectations once I got into it. For now, like Lumachina, I'll try to simply have faith, and hope that ends up being rewarded for both of us.
Chris is a freelance writer who appreciates anime, action figures, and additional ancillary artistry. He can be found staying up way too late posting screencaps on his Twitter.